Album Review

Betacicadae – Mouna (Elegua, 2013)

betacicadae album cover
BetacicadaePahoa (Elegua)

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One Kevin Scott Davis making an astounding debut with Betacicadae. A wholly unique record, taking every instrument he’s got, a bunch of guitars, a wood flute, vibraphone, harp, violin, drums, synths, and runs some of it through some effects pedals, does some post-processing, and mixes it all up with field recordings from farms, rainforests, and cities, making the most incredible electro-acoustic ambient record that is its own separate planet of sound, there’s nothing else quite like this, it’s a microcosm of personality but the breadth is endless, breathing warmth into electronics and twisting organics beyond their limits, life is everywhere & at every moment, this covers the entire range of emotion with calm oddities, frightened fauna, chaos & control, washed out & dazzlingly brilliant, the dark night of the unknown & the slow morning peace, and the opening track “Pahoa” is the most beautiful fucking thing I’ve ever heard, it’s a masterpiece of wonder, a place of perfection, and I just want to live inside it forever. This is as good as debuts get, my friends. The best on every level. The whole thing is streaming and there’s only 100 copies each of vinyl and CD, so don’t do anything dumb like not pick one of these up immediately.

Album Review

Ous Mal / Bedroom Bear Split (Full Of Nothing, 2011)


Ous MalMetsien Hämy (Full Of Nothing)

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Finland’s now defunct Ous Mal makes one of his last outings on a split with Russia’s Bedroom Bear. Ous Mal’s side is absolutely killer, a cracked bliss that will surely be missed. Some songs have a way about them similar to the recent surge of instrumental hip hop jams except the beats here hit as soft as your grandma’s punches. The rest are a warped & blurry bedroom pop, droned in the best way with zero sense of urgency, moth eaten and full of holes like it’s been tucked away in the attic for half a century.

Bedroom Bear takes a slightly more dramatic approach to the bedroom pop, permeated with a low-key psych sound, waves of the bizarre melting into dream-like drifts of noise, all while still being chill as fuck and totally blissful. One track is like a nap on the beach with waves lapping at the shore and the creatures of the coast singing about how awesome life is. Doesn’t get much better than that.

A truly great split, limited as expected, and on the increasingly awesome Russian label Full Of Nothing. Wholly worth your while.

Album Review

William Bowers – Post Modern (Haute Magie, 2011)


William BowersNight Moves On Shallow Ground (Haute Magie)

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Synthed out electro-semi-acoustic “post modernism.” j/k there’s nothing really post modern about this. Still pretty fucking cool though. Blade Runner-esque city-soundscapes, exceptionally soundtracky and occasionally danceable. Like a slice from an awesome theme to a bad 80s movie, caught in a loop and repeated for minutes on end for maximum spacing outing, total kosmische sprawl with field recordings of who knows what and drones from harmonic thrones, ambient pianos meld seamlessly with glitches electronics, mixed fidelities throwing grit & crunch into an otherwise smooth & creamy tune. A bleary album of strange awe & slight bewilderment. Yup. Pretty fucking cool.

Album Review

Myrmyr – Fire Star (Under The Spire, 2011)


MyrmyrFire Serpent’s Lull (Under The Spire)

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Two lovely ladies (Agnes Szelag from Evon & Dokuro and Marielle Jakobsons from Darwinsbitch & Date Palms) making exquisite electro-acoustic tunes (heavy on the acoustic). Lots of delicate syrupy strings, like liquid lace being stretched to its thinnest. Looped into charming beats with handclaps, plucked strings, bells, accordions, like Animal Hospital teaming with Eluvium, except with more pep in its step. Sadness & somber darkness abound, weaving seamlessly with moments of cheering reprieve. The electronics are an understatement, not a crutch, slightly bending the acoustics or adding an element of static otherwise unavailable. Culminates in a long heaving drone, blissful, a perfect closer. Recorded on Shasta Mountain during a snowstorm, Fire Star is a very warm record, one of solitude. A triumph if I’ve ever heard one.

Album Review

Andrew Weathers Ensemble – We’re Not Cautious (Sleep On The Floor, 2011)


Andrew Weathers EnsembleEcstatic, Unchanging

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North Carolina’s Andrew Weathers might not be super prolific yet, but he’s still able to put out a damn fine drone record, last year’s A Great Southern City being a prime example. He also helps run the impeccably curated Full Spectrum label. But guys, get ready for this one. Seriously. We’re Not Cautious is gonna swoop down without warning and stun the shit out of you. This record is fucking GLORIOUS.

Weathers is joined by numerous pals in this Ensemble, each tackling their instrument of choice, be it wind or string or whatever. Together they form a multi-faceted electro-acoustic peacekeeper, spreading the warmest vibes possible. There’s lots of drone, although this isn’t really a drone record. There’s also plenty of percussion & singing, and mixed with violins, banjos, & guitars you’d think this might be headed into folk territory. It’s not. It’s something else entirely. It’s just… perfect. It takes everything that’s right with music and puts it on one album.

“Ecstatic, Unchanging” is the embodiment of this record. It seamlessly mixes violin & cello drone with slow paced banjo picking and processed vocals. It’s fucking INCREDIBLE. So so gorgeous. It’s like this was fucking made for me. Vocal glitchiness, heavenly drone, and banjos? In case you didn’t already know, I have a hardcore weakness for banjos & free reeds, which kind of explains why I love this album so much. Fucking banjos GALORE. Plus organs & harmonicas. I never stood a chance against We’re Not Cautious.

Some pieces focus on one sound more than others but most of them mash everything into a single song, like “Ecstatic, Unchanging” or “Go Lightning” which switches gears from static drone bliss to lone banjo & layered vocal harmonies. It would be pretty easy to fuck up something as complicated as this. Blending so many instruments and different styles into something that’s this cohesive, original, and enjoyable is a goddamn feat and a half.

There’s so much feeling evoked from this ensemble, you can just tell it was made by friends that love & care for sound. It’s unbelievably warm, so rich & soft, tender & charming, absolutely beautiful in every way. It can be played at full volume and it won’t overpower, it’ll simply fill your home with the most delicately lush sounds you can imagine. I’m pretty sure We’re Not Cautious is going to stay with me for a long time to come. And if there’s any justice in the world, it’ll be in heavy rotation for everyone forever. Do your life a favor and pick this up at Sleep On The Floor because it just dropped TODAY.

Album Review

Aaron Martin – Worried About The Fire (Experimedia, 2010)


Aaron MartinBeaver Falls

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I feel like Aaron Martin may be a name everyone knows but maybe not too many people actually listen to? Or maybe just not write about? I don’t see his name popping up as often as it should, I guess because he’s not one to ever get a lot of hype. I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT. This Kansas dude is fucking knocking it out of the park with every album. His latest full length on Experimedia is no different.

Worried About The Fire is a dark & beautiful drone fest with dozens of sound makers: cellos, violins, saws, bowls, free reeds, and presumably anything else within arms reach. Martin dips into the processing world, too, manipulating the analog, bending it in ways that still fit the natural aesthetic that embodies The Fire. There are purely acoustic tracks like “Water Tongue” with its building string layers that are unbelievably beautiful, so elegiac and somber. And then there’s the highly fucked with “Marked In Dust” that buzzes like a generator, pulses like a swarm of cicadas, and flurries like spiraling snowflakes.

For what’s primarily a drone record, the songs are incredibly short. All but one are under four minutes long, making it feel more fast paced than is typical. This sounds like a Constellation release that’s a cross between Zomes’ self titled and Et Ret’s brief ambient violin loops on Gasworks. And seriously, Constellation, Zomes, and Et Ret are three of my favorite things ever, so that comparison is giving some high fuckin praise. My opinion with drone is make it as long as humanly possible, or take The Fire approach, take something that is usually static and make it dynamic enough that a three minute piece is still endlessly interesting.

I love this record because I’m never entirely sure what it is that I’m feeling. It’s not confusion, just a difficulty in pinpointing the emotions. It’s almost but not quite warm, cold, blissful, and unsettling. It walks a fine line of creation that results in something that’s inarguably gorgeous but open for interpretation in every other way. Just make sure your interpretation stems from the vinyl experience.